Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy

About the Engelberg Center


The Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy was created to sponsor interdisciplinary work in the general area of innovation law and policy. It draws together legal scholars and practitioners, economists, historians, culturalists, social scientists, and representatives of the innovation industries to examine questions on allocating global resources to creative activities, to study the legal regimes and cultural forces that influence innovation, to explore methods for optimizing the exploitation of intellectual products, and to search for new ways to facilitate the transfer of technology from creator to end-user, across fields, and among nations.

The Academic Scope

Within academia, there is widening support for interdisciplinary work as well as considerable theoretical ferment in the intellectual property area. Scholars now have available to them the tools of economic analysis, the data of historians of industry, science, and technology, the insights of sociologists, psychologists, and philosophers, along with the perspective of culturalists. Moreover, NYU's unique commitment to globalization makes the research, talents, and viewpoints of scholars and students from all over the world especially accessible.

The Engelberg Center's first Conference, on the culture and economics of participation in an international intellectual property regime, established the breadth of the Center's interests. It also began the process of coalescing a core community of scholars who see the Center as an intellectual resource for their own work.

The Center also sponsors an Innovation Policy Colloquium that includes both students and members of the innovation community, including other faculty at NYU, faculty of other universities, law practitioners, and industry representatives. Topics, chosen on a yearly basis by those serving as the Colloquium faculty for that year, include the law and economics of innovation and competition, a consideration of incentive structures (including a comparative analysis of the factors that stimulate creativity in the arts versus the sciences, as well as incentive structures in other cultures), examination of innovation in developing economies (including an assessment of compliance with GATT and its effect on innovation and cultural development), and consideration of the influences of non-intellectual property laws on innovation (including an investigation of tax, tort, and environmental law), and issues raised by advances in telecommunication.

The Center also provides unique opportunities to students. In addition to offering students in the Colloquium exposure to critical thinkers in the innovation area, the Center sponsors a fellowship program for LL.M. students. Engelberg Fellows receive a stipend from the Law School and work closely with faculty members on appropriate projects. They also are given the responsibility of preparing a working papers series for research materials in innovation law and policy that are distributed to interested scholars around the world. In addition, LL.M. students are invited to a series of lunches, where speakers are invited to discuss a variety of policy issues. Examples of past discussions include new legislative initiatives and administrative proposals; international trade issues; international moves toward harmonization of intellectual property laws; and the relationship between intellectual property law and antitrust law.

The National Scope

Nationally, high technology products (such as bioengineered pharmaceuticals and computer programs) and cultural goods (such as movies and television shows) contribute ever more significantly to the US economy. At the same time, however, traditional intellectual property regimes are under attack. Just at the moment when the poor fit between current doctrine and certain of these developments (such as computer programs and data bases) brings into question the continued efficacy of copyright and patent law, advances in transmission technologies (such as the internet) along with developments in reproductive and storage capabilities make the need for legal protection increasingly apparent.

The International Scope

At the international level, newly productive economies are emerging in Europe, in the Pacific, and in the Southern Hemisphere. Treaties such as the intellectual property provisions of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Madrid Arrangement, and the Patent Cooperation Treaty, have made world markets readily available to intellectual property holders. With enhanced demand for the fruits of innovation comes an obligation to examine the impact of intellectual products on the national and social identities of countries that import them, as well as the need to consider how the new profits of innovation are to be distributed between consumers and producers. Furthermore, as the nations of the world abandon their individual legal standards in favor of uniform international norms, attention must be given to the effects of relinquishing global diversity in incentive structures.

The Center's Founder

The Engelberg Center on Innovation Law and Policy is named for Alfred B. Engelberg, a 1965 cum laude graduate of NYU Law School, who has enjoyed an unusually varied career in the field of intellectual property. A chemical engineer trained at Drexel University (1961), he has worked in every aspect of patent law: as a patent examiner (1961), a patent agent (1962-1965), a patent attorney in the Justice Department (1965-1968), a member of a law firm (1969-1985), and a representative for the generic pharmaceutical industry. He has represented such clients as Exxon Research & Engineering, Bausch & Lomb, Celanese, Christian Dior, Coach Leatherware, Engelhardt Corp., Gulf + Western, Ralph Lauren, the Generic Pharmaceutical Industry Association, and Schein Pharmaceuticals. He was a principal negotiator during the legislative process that led to the Patent Term Restoration Act of 1984 (the "Waxman-Hatch Act") and the 1988 Omnibus Trade Bill's provisions on process patents. It is, perhaps, because Engelberg's own perspectives on intellectual property are so broad that he saw the need to encourage fundamental research and critical thinking on innovation law and policy. In 1994, he made the commitment to create and support a Center on innovation at NYU Law School.

In 1996, Professor Rochelle Dreyfuss was named the Center's first Director and an Advisory Council, chaired by Judge Pauline Newman of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, was appointed.